Jim Byers’ Travel Blog: Canadians Cautious, But Eager to Travel This Winter

We Canadians are a cautious lot, but our travel patterns – especially our winter travel patterns – are deeply ingrained. I’ve been saying this for a while, but I suspect some of our doubts about travelling during the pandemic will dissipate somewhat when the snow begins to fly and the wind comes whistling through our doors and windows.

A new study from CAA appears to suggest I might be right. The study was undertaken by CAA-Quebec, but I don’t think Quebeckers have vastly different thoughts about travelling and COVID-19 than other Canadians. So here’s what the study found.

Even though 92% of snowbirds say they’re uneasy about the U.S. response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and despite fear of a second wave, border closures, and the risks involved, more than half still hope to winter in warmer southern climes.

More than half (54%) of respondents in the CAA-Quebec survey said they think they’ll probably travel this coming winter. Those who own property in sunny destination spots (about half of all snowbirds) are even more inclined to go.

On the face of it, that’s good news for Florida. But the study also has some cautionary data.  Barely one respondent in five (20%) has decided whether to travel this year, and the answer for 88% of them is “no.” One in four (25%) still do not know when they will make this decision.

The main issue is how the virus progresses. Among those staying in Quebec, 84% worry about a second wave.

Here are some observations from the study.

Travel insurance matters to snowbirds

Snowbirds have every reason to be cautious with regard to the virus and to ensure they have insurance coverage during COVID-19, especially since health care is extremely expensive in the United States. More than a third (37%) of those who will remain in Quebec this winter made the decision because they’ve been unable to get COVID-19 insurance. For suggestions and more information about permitted destinations and restrictions with COVID, consult our website or a travel agent.

COVID-19 compels snowbirds to take precautions

Six in ten snowbirds admit they fear contracting the virus. It hardly comes as a surprise that almost all (98%) of those who intend to travel plan to take extra precautions similar to those in force in Quebec, even going so far as to avoid public places (65%) or contact with locals (60%). Two-thirds of respondents (66%) say that health measures in place at their destinations will influence their choice of whether to travel.

Travelling this winter? It’s all or nothing

Even though seven out of ten snowbirds had to rush back to Quebec when the pandemic broke out last March and April, their enthusiasm for returning is unabated. Those who plan to travel will go to the same place, using the same mode of transportation, and will stay the same length of time. Only 15% think they will cut their stay short.

A portrait of Quebec snowbirds according to the CAA-Quebec survey

•    Customary destination

  • 68% to Florida (33% to Fort Lauderdale–Miami, 9% to Palm Beach)
  • 7% in a state other than Florida, mainly Texas
  • 10% to Mexico
  • 5% to the Caribbean
  • 3% to Spain

•    Accommodation

  • 46% condo
  • 18% house
  • 11% mobile home
  • 15% recreational vehicle
  • 5% hotel, inn, etc.
  • 48% owners, 47% renters

•    Length of stay

  • 43% 4 months or more
  • 22% 3 months
  • 14% 2 months
  • 13% 1 month

•    Travel dates

  • 33% leave in November and 24% leave in January
  • 57% come back in April and 25% come back in March


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One response to “Jim Byers’ Travel Blog: Canadians Cautious, But Eager to Travel This Winter”

  1. Pat Brennan says:

    Please put dates somewhere on each article or post from Jim & Marsha.

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